More than 200 runners braved the cold, pre-dawn hours last Saturday morning to help mothers and babies get a ‘healthy start’ during the ninth annual Beachside Half Marathon at Riverside Park to benefit the Indian River County Healthy Start Coalition.
As the half-marathoners made the daunting trek to circle over both bridges, a smaller group of runners participated in the 5K Fun Run, Kids Run and Toddler Dash.
“This is always an exciting morning for us to see people from the community come out to support moms and babies and families,” said IRCHS CEO Andrea Berry. “I always think about the comparison between birth and running a marathon. They say once you’re in it, you’re in it.”
Through encouragement, engagement and empowerment, IRCHS supports a local system of care to optimize the health of mothers, babies and their families by providing resources and education from prenatal care through childbirth and the first years of a child’s life.
In addition to current programming, Healthy Start has plans to implement two new initiatives. The first is to “Mend the Gap” in the system by assisting uninsured women to get the prenatal care they need.
“It takes these women about five steps and 10 phone calls to get to their first prenatal appointment. We hope to engage local funders in creating a one-stop shop,” Berry explained.
The other new program is the Fatherhood Initiative.
“We know how powerful the presence of a father can be in a child’s life and we really want to start focusing on that a little bit more,” noted Berry.
Retired gynecologist Dr. Audrey Richards has recently stepped in as IRCHS board president, replacing Dr. Glenn Tremml, who will be recognized for his years of service when the office lobby is named in his honor.
Richards said that the state-mandated organization was founded to decrease infant and maternal mortality and morbidity.
“Many of the diseases causing morbidities are preventable, and that’s what we’re about,” she added.
The half marathon overall winner was Allan Ross with a time of 1 hour and 21 minutes. The first-place female finisher was Lotte Branigan at 1 hour and 33 minutes.
On May 11 the nonprofit will host its 11th annual Dancing with Vero Stars at Riverside Theatre.
For more information, visit irchealthystartcoalition.org.